State allocates $56M more for TAP


College tuition is something that can loom over a student’s head long after she graduates. But she and others are getting a little help from Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators, who earmarked an additional $56 million into the state’s Tuition Assistance Program.

More students applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form will have the opportunity to receive assistance through TAP. The program has been active since 1974, providing nearly $30 billion in financial aid to 6 million students in New York.

TAP is one of the largest need-based financial grants in the country. The program provided 234,000 students $662 million in TAP grants as recently as the 2022-23 academic year.

The minimum annual TAP award was increased from $500 to $1,000, capping out at just below $5,700. Income limit threshold qualifications were also increased for both dependent and independent students.

Those who may qualify include:

  • independent students with tax dependents,
  • students who qualified as an orphan, foster child or ward of the court any time since they were 13, and
  • dependent undergraduate students with a household earning less than $125,000.

Independent students who are married without tax dependents who make less than $60,000 now qualify — up from $40,000 previously.

Independent students who are single without tax dependents who make less than $30,000 now qualify — up from $10,000 previously.

The TAP expansion was celebrated by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling, former Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages and members of the Elmont community outside of Elmont Memorial High School last week.

“It is indispensable for families who are struggling with the affordability crisis in which we exist today,” Assemblywoman Solages said, emphasizing the importance for students to receive “a quality education at a good price.”

The TAP expansion is meant to help students and families, especially when facing the hardships brought by inflation.

“Turning the TAP on is exactly what we needed to do,” Darling said, adding that students have come to her to say they needed to drop out of school because they couldn’t afford things like a MetroCard or Long Island Rail Road ticket, day care, or even to put food on the table.

Trecia Wong shared her son has a “hefty student loan,” and could really use more help from TAP.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our young students,” the Elmont resident said. “It will give them a chance to excel in higher education and reduce their amount of debt.”

Quincy Velez, a senior at the Elmont school, said he “definitely needed” the help that TAP provides. He receives $2,000 in aid from the program, which helps a lot coming from a single-parent household where going to college isn’t always a viable option.

“Now I can look for a school that is my first choice instead of it not being my first choice because of money issues,” said Velez, who has dreams of someday becoming a pilot.

Such a dream could be expensive, said Lynette Battle — Velez’s mother, and president of the school’s parent teacher association. Aviation school can cost as much as $75,000 per year, if not more. Expanding TAP can really make a difference.

“The struggle is real, and this is a breath of fresh air,” Battle said. “And now, the opportunities are much greater.”

To receive TAP, students must be in good standing on a student loan under any state or federal education loan program, or on the repayment of any state award, among other conditions.

Applications are now open through June 2025, according to the state’s Higher Education Services Corp. Students who saved their TAP application prior to the 2024-25 FAFSA release must complete their FAFSA and submit their saved TAP application no later than next February.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity,” Battle said. “I hope that every young person makes sure they fill out their FAFSA form, and makes sure they get everything done in a timely fashion, because now is the time.

“The TAP is turned on. Don’t wait until the TAP is off.”